Thursday 21 March 2013
In his foreword to the Creating Chances 2012 report, Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's Chief Executive, says that while such work has been happening for a long time, the legacy of the 2012 Olympics means it is incumbent on the League to ensure that the momentum the Games is maintained.
On 14 February 1992, some six months before the first Premier League season started, Sir Alex Ferguson opened a brand new education facility called Stretford High School. Twenty years on in September 2012 I was with the Manchester United manager as he returned to Stretford High School. This time he opened a new sports facility that will benefit the community that exists on the doorstep of the Old Trafford club.
"What is important to take from 2012; a legacy of participation and social change"
The Premier League provided half of the funding for this £700,000 project as part of the Premier League Community Facility Fund, our new three-year £18m initiative that will provide grants to refurbish or develop new sports facilities for local people across the country.
The new facility at Stretford High School will add to that legacy by significantly increasing sports participation. Of the 3,000 people that will use the Stretford Sports Village each week, two-thirds will be local junior, women’s and disabled football and sports clubs.
Of course, with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Danny Welbeck, the community of North Trafford has never had far to look for inspiration. Their achievements as players, like those of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, Mo Farah, David Weir or Dame Sarah Storey, demonstrate the qualities that make sport so compelling; not only to watch, but also to motivate. And that is what is important to take from 2012; a legacy of participation and social change.
The Premier League, like most sports bodies, is not a recent convert to the power of our players, clubs and activities to engage. The focus on sport during 2012 has put the role and ability of organisations like us to deliver across a range of areas right back in the centre of the political debate and the public’s mind. It is a drum we have been banging for many years now, so it is incumbent on us, with the right partner bodies, to ensure that the momentum 2012 offered is maintained.
The Premier League and our clubs will keep doing our bit. We have done so since 1992 and, as you will see in these pages, all year round. This year’s Creating Chances Report is packed with personal stories of the difference that our work makes to those who are involved with it, be they an administrator, participant, a partner or a politician.
"We can truly claim to be helping the next generation"
What people should take from these stories is that the reach and scale of the programmes undertaken in clubs’ communities is as impressive as the impact our monitoring and evaluation demonstrates they are having.
We are proud of the facilities being built and the practitioners whose drive and professionalism is making a real difference to thousands of young people throughout the country. We can truly claim to be helping the next generation: of the 4.14 million who attended the 843 Creating Chances projects in 2012, 89% were of school age.
Professional sport can only do so much to help them. Yes, we have a responsibility to lead, inspire and invest – but the scale of what can be achieved off the back of such a wonderful year of sport requires buy-in from Government at all levels and across departments.
There is a realisation of what can be achieved by a strategic and sustained investment plan in sport at all levels in this country. The Premier League is currently involved in some interesting discussions that may become exciting in terms of developing and enhancing initiatives like the Premier League Community Facility Fund, Kickz and Premier League 4 Sport to an unprecedented scale.
Our club foundations, our central programmes and our partnerships will all keep delivering the participation, education and grassroots-focused activities that will keep inspiring and engaging young people in our clubs’ communities. But, with the right investment and vision, many more Stretford Sports Villages could be supported yet.